Julia's story - a birth at home following two caesareans

I had always been suspicious of birth in hospital. It seemed to me that the women that went there to have their babies were not sick so why should they be in this cold and sterile environment? I had made up my mind as an adolescent to have a homebirth if I ever fell pregnant but when I met my future husband and learned that one of his cousins was severely disabled because of “something that happened at the birth” it was clear – if we ever had kids, it would have to be in hospital.

When I got pregnant we did everything one is “supposed” to do. I felt lucky that I had private insurance and was able to see my private doctor each month where we also always had an ultrasound. It seemed silly to me back then to choose a midwife instead, when I could get the whole package with my Obstetrician, including birthing at a private hospital.

After going ten days overdue and a failed induction I ended up with a c-section. Not having known what I know now we were even grateful to that doctor for having saved our baby. Despite believing the doctors judgment that it was a necessary procedure I was unhappy and struggled with the way my baby was delivered for a long time. For my next pregnancy I was hopeful to have a VBAC but alas, with my previous history and a posterior baby I was once again wheeled into the OR despite this time having fully dilated and pushing.

It was a game changer to come to Scotland where I immediately looked for a supportive Doula and educated myself with the numerous books and online resources available. Listening to people who had chosen a different path was eye-opening for me and we felt ready to try again, going against medical advice and have our third baby at home in the birth pool, supported by my wonderful doula and the great NHS midwives that fate brought to us on the day my daughter was born.

My labour started at night. We had hoped that the kids would sleep through the night but they didn’t – instead they turned out to be lovely and engaged birth companions, offering me water and holding space. I was so lucky with my midwife. Pregnant herself she read my birth plan in which I had specified that I wanted a physiological birth where I was in charge and she was so respectful of my wishes, agreeing to check me only three times with the pinnard. I was absolutely convinced that my baby was fine even if we didn’t listen in, feeling her moving inside my womb.

As I had declined vaginal checks we didn’t know how far dilated I was but I took comfort in the fact that it got harder and harder to breathe through the waves so I was sure there was some progress. I could swear I felt how the cervix grew slowly thinner and opened. The water really helped me deal with the sensations that grew in intensity. As soon as my husband had brought the kids to nursery in the morning, my labour ramped up. My husband applied counter pressure, my doula offered her hands and the rebozo to hold on to and the midwife watched, softly encouraged me, but was, as I had asked for, hands off the entire time.

I felt a burning sensation and knew that the baby’s head was on its way! This really was happening! I had gotten past the point where I had got stuck the last time and I knew now that I could do it. My waters went with a pop – the head went down and back up with each wave and a grim determination took hold of me: I was going to push this baby out, there was no going back – and then the head was out, like a grapefruit between my legs. What an extraordinary feeling!

I couldn’t help but being in awe with what the female body – my body – was capable of and witnessed with fascination the intricate processes that I had only read about. With the next push the body slid out and I caught my baby and put her on my chest, looking at her with disbelief. She started to breathe and cry immediately, what a relief.

Two weeks postpartum, I have healed already from a second degree tear and I feel amazing, especially compared to the last two births. The baby has gained weight beautifully and is thriving. My two older kids are in love with their baby sister and the transition from two to three went as smoothly as one could wish for. I am so happy with the choices I made and so grateful for the support I received when I needed it. My mind is at ease knowing that I did what I deemed to be right and for the first time there is no nagging feeling that something was missing. I learned that when it comes to birth, whatever a woman chooses to do, she should make an informed choice and honour her wishes.